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Thread: Interstate System Of Defense Highways

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Interstate System Of Defense Highways

    This Bear found it very strange (after doing a "search" on Cyburbian topics) that no thread ever had in it's title our "Interstate System Of Defense Highways". Interstate highways and the nation's freeway and tollway system has probably had more of an affect on "planning issues" that just about any other topic.

    As I'm sure you know, President Dwight Eisenhour signed the legislation in 1956 that created the interstate system. Original plans only called for a few roads that criss-crossed the nation.....and boy did that change. They required at least one (1) mile in every six (6) to be straight.....serving as an emergency runway for military planes. The original focus was on providing the logistical access that the military would need in time of war.

    State and federal highways, with all of their mom and pop businesses, suddenly found themselves with only local customers. All the through traffic was on the interstate. The interchanges for the interstates became the location for businesses that catered to travelers.

    Cities and towns next to interstates florished. Those towns away from the interstates started a slow death march that continues today.

    Automobiles, filled to the interior brim with.....one (1) person .....became the norm. In the 1950's you could get your kicks on Route 66 but by the 1970's the only Route 66 signs were in fixed-up basements.

    Large cities started turning normal busy roads into freeways (think St. Paul or think Detroit). Our culture became a "car culture". Central cities died. Small shopping plazas popular in the 1960's were joined by large malls in the 1970's and regional giant malls in the 1980's. Transit-oriented stuff went away, except in only the largest of towns.

    And on a personal note.....this Bears dad bought a mom and pop restaurant, located on what we all called "The Chicago Pike" (the state road that led to the windy town). He bought it the same year the Ohio Turnpike opened (1956). Obviously, that place, called "Country Home", didn't stay in business very long.

    Bear On Chicago Pike
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Good thread, bear.

    Reminds me of a recent History Channel "Modern Marvels" show about the origins of the Autobahn. Dod you know Hitler's engineers came up with the pattern for the modern day overpass / underpass?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian AubieTurtle's avatar
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    I wonder what the percentage of traffic on our "inter"state highways is local versus how much of it is actual interstate traffic.
    As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. - H.L. Mencken

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Bear Up North
    They required at least one (1) mile in every six (6) to be straight.....serving as an emergency runway for military planes.
    Contrary to popular belief, this is a myth.

    But anyway, the Federal Highway Administration's website has an extensive library of online articles all about the history of our highways.
    Last edited by Markitect; 12 Feb 2005 at 8:49 PM.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Markitect
    Contrary to popular belief, this is a myth.
    ROTFLMOA whow knew crust bureaucrats had a sense of humor?!

  6. #6
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Chet
    Good thread, bear.

    Reminds me of a recent History Channel "Modern Marvels" show about the origins of the Autobahn. Dod you know Hitler's engineers came up with the pattern for the modern day overpass / underpass?
    And if I recall correctly, German engineers of the mid-1930s based their early autobahn designs on even earlier four-lane parkways here in the USA (the Merritt in Connecticut comes to mind as one).

    When the 'Wall' fell in late 1989 and East Germany disappeared in 1990, one of the first priorities of the newly re-unified country was to upgrade east-west autobahns connecting major cities in the former East with the rest of Germany, especially the A4. The A4 crossed the former Iron Curtain border three times in close succession between Eisenach and Bad Herschfeld (it runs westward from Dresden and Chemnitz) and was quickly upgraded to 6 lanes. When the now under construction A44 connection between Kassel and the A4 at Wommen (right in the middle of this former border-crossing part of the A4) is completed in a few years, there will be a direct autobahn connecting Dresden, Chemnitz, Kassel and the Rhine-Ruhr metro area.

    Since commerce was never a high priority with the Communist governments, little attention was ever paid by them to the autobahns in East Germany. Routes fell into severe disrepair and the concrete surface of one route was even used as foundations for grain storage bins. To this day, there are still a few scattered sections of former East German autobahns that remain a 'drive into the past', with only the most basic of maintanence and safety and signage upgrades, it is just that there are so many to bring up to standard and only so many Deutschmarks (and now Euros) to go around.

    Adding to this pressure is the fact that with the fall of the 'Wall', Germany changed from a perimeter country into a crossroads, with overall big-rig truck/lorry traffic on the autobahns increasing at least five-fold(!) as a result. This is causing severe congestion in many areas with the Federal Transport Ministry doing everything it can to catch up.

    Yes, there is still no posted speed limit on much of the system, but this congestion is making the wide-open autobahn a dwindling thing, and now to complicate matters, the EU is talking about imposing standardized EU-wide highway speed limits (didn't anyone learn anything from that failed 1970s/80s national speed limit here in the US of A??? )

    Stay tuned.

    (hoping to someday to spend a few weeks exploring that part of the world)

    Mike
    Last edited by mgk920; 13 Feb 2005 at 12:34 PM.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Chet
    ROTFLMOA whow knew crust bureaucrats had a sense of humor?!
    Yeah, but the article was still boring.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    Yeah, but the article was still boring.
    Thus, a bureaucrat at heart!

    But a great addition to the thread, jordanb. The people now know why the new US version of Audis are named the A4, A6, A8...

  9. #9
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    Somebody once told me that there is a section of I-95 in Connecticut that has rmovable Jersey barriers so that it can be converted into a runway. I also read somewhere that the clearance for overpasses was dictated by the height of the military's tallest trailered howitzer. More myths?

    And Henry Ford being heavily influenced by the nazi autobahns has already been discussed here, I believe. Those details are something FoMoCo has been trying to downplay ever since.
    Adrift in a sea of beige

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Quote Originally posted by boilerplater
    I also read somewhere that the clearance for overpasses was dictated by the height of the military's tallest trailered howitzer. More myths?
    "Bridges and overpasses had to allow a minimum of 16 feet vertical clearance above the roadway to accommodate the passage of military vehicles;"
    http://www.i-235.com/factoids.pdf
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    Quote Originally posted by mgk920
    And if I recall correctly, German engineers of the mid-1930s based their early autobahn designs on even earlier four-lane parkways here in the USA (the Merritt in Connecticut comes to mind as one).


    Merrit Parkway was built in the 1930s, I think..if so it would be contemporary w. the autobahns.

    There was alot of limited access planning going in in Europe prior to Hitler and the Nazis. The Italians built the first freeway in Europe, I think, between Milan and the lakes.


    sort of a goofy interchange...guess they hadnt figured out sign control yet.


    There was also a very early "demonstration freeway" in Berlin built in the early 1920s. And a limited access, grade-seperated freeway (but without a median) was built between Cologne and Bonn prior to the Nazis (1932).







    The first true long distance limited access highway plan in Germany was the Hamburg/Frankfurt/Basel project, or HaFraBa. This project also predated the Nazis, and was probably the first true autobahn. I think it was going to be a toll road, and engineering went underway prior to the Nazi takeover. When Hitler took power the engineering was in done and plans where in place, so it was an opportune make-work project for him...thus the very first stretches of autobahn (Frankfurt-Darmstadt) followed the HaFraBa route and specs.

    Original HaFraBa concept..more an international highway.


    Evolution of cross sections
    1927


    1931


    Original "starter" route between the Rhine/Main & Rhine/Neckar metro areas.



    Initial construction to HaFraBa specs during the Nazi era.






    Apparently the French where doing some plans too...
    urban freeway plan for Paris 1937


    And a long distance system plan from 1927 connecting up with the proposed autostrada in Italy and the German HaFraBa

    ...so, already in the 1920s, people where thinking of Europe-wide systems of freeways.

  12. #12
         
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    Quote Originally posted by boilerplater
    Somebody once told me that there is a section of I-95 in Connecticut that has rmovable Jersey barriers so that it can be converted into a runway. I also read somewhere that the clearance for overpasses was dictated by the height of the military's tallest trailered howitzer. More myths?

    And Henry Ford being heavily influenced by the nazi autobahns has already been discussed here, I believe. Those details are something FoMoCo has been trying to downplay ever since.
    Hope I'm not being redundant (as I am a new mem.), but a great book, and a quick read, is called "Divided Highways" forgot the author, but discusses the impact of the interstates on various cities across America. Did not realize Penna. Turnpike preceeded modern Interstates by a decade or two...and that I-90 did not become "non-stop" ie. w/o traffic lights until the Seventies. Also pushes theory (debatable) that in certain cites, Interstates provided a "moat" for the freshly evacuated white-fliters in some cities, such as my new digs in Pittsburgh. (Moved here from Seattle)

  13. #13
    As a concept, the interstate system was a great idea, both for military and commercial purposes. Smooth, uninterupted travel from area to area for both frieght and people. Then politics got into the mix and every city within 20 miles of a proposed road wanted to cash in on the traffic. This resulted in congestion, looping routes, and sprawl as people came to the roads. The same thing happened with rail in the 1800's and will probably happen when the first starships take off. For some reason, people feel the need to have it all. Rapid, close transit as well as their own "space" in the form of some type of estate, if you can call 1 acre an estate. As long as there has to be an exit at every little crossroads, there will be no decent way of moving people and material from point A to point B.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    I like....

    The ALCAN Highway has to be one of the best highway stories.....Thanks Canada for letting us do that.......what a swell bunch of folks up there eh?
    Skilled Adoxographer

  15. #15
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    ALCAN highway? Is this... an aluminum highway?

  16. #16
    Cyburbian LorenzoRoyal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Bicoastal BikeGuy
    Hope I'm not being redundant (as I am a new mem.), but a great book, and a quick read, is called "Divided Highways" forgot the author, but discusses the impact of the interstates on various cities across America. Did not realize Penna. Turnpike preceeded modern Interstates by a decade or two...and that I-90 did not become "non-stop" ie. w/o traffic lights until the Seventies. Also pushes theory (debatable) that in certain cites, Interstates provided a "moat" for the freshly evacuated white-fliters in some cities, such as my new digs in Pittsburgh. (Moved here from Seattle)

    Divided Highways is written by Tom Lewis. Great book indeed. One surprise I found was how the people of New Orleans were able to rise up against excessive freeway building. However, it is sickening that an elevated freeway shadows the French Quarter. And I know people who like elevated freeways! I don't like them, but some do.

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    escape

    automobiles (hence interstate) represent the right of individuality over community value, the middle class trying to achieve liberation from strictures of social hierarchies, the only single industry to have such cultural impact is the internet. it's all a commercialized myth of freedom.

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